PATERSON, NJ – Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer has made no secret of the importance she places on music education for the nearly 30,000 students she serves, saying that it improves self-esteem and self-worth, while giving many additional motivation to go to school. 

And, she’s also got an appreciation of the past, understanding fully the place that Eastside High School’s Marching 100 holds in the annals of Paterson history.

That came together on June 25 when Shafer pulled together music teachers, educators, and community stakeholders to discuss the possibility of forming an All City Band that would perform at this year’s Thanksgiving Classic football game between the Kennedy Knights and the Eastside Ghosts.

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During the nearly 90 minute gathering Shafer shared her vision of building a marching band of students and alumni from both Kennedy and Eastside that would ignite spirit and pride in Patersonians as the famed Marching 100 had in previous years.

“We want students and alumni from all of the district’s high school programs to participate at the Thanksgiving game,” said Shafer. “This is an effort to bring people throughout the Paterson community together through the talents of our students and our alumni.”

Among the people who attended the meeting were Paterson Public Schools music teachers Dana Brannan (Public School No. 24), Jaimeo Brown (Public School No. 21), Kenneth Davis (Rosa L. Parks High School and a former Marching 100 director), Nancy Horowitz (Public School No. 24), and Kelvin Quince (Public School No. 6). Chief Special Education Officer and former Marching 100 member Cheryl Coy also attended as did Principal Joanne Riviello and Principal Cora Quince. 

Bringing his long history in music education to the table was Dr. Thomas Page, giving evidence that the enthusiasm for the initiative extended beyond 90 Delaware Avenue. Also present was Paterson City Councilwoman-at-Large Dr. Lilisa Mimms who told TAPinto Paterson that her time in the Marching 100, as a clarinet player, was a “great experience.”

“We practiced every morning at 6:00 a.m., we had to keep our grades up and be in class, we became leaders,” Mimms recounted, adding that for her and the other musicians involvement meant learning about, and exercising, discipline, accountability, and leadership. Asked what impact this effort, when successful, will have, Mimms didn’t hesitate to suggest that it will bring back “a sense of pride and unity, making sure history isn’t forgotten.”

The meeting concluded with not only an abundance of enthusiasm, but also an action plan to continue meeting, and executing on the effort that, while undoubtedly one rife with challenges, is one that Shafer clarified “is not about being perfect, it’s about bringing our community together.”

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